Government Affairs update:
Hello, As a new member to the government affairs group I wanted to update the membership about some of the aspects of the legislative interest associated with ENA national and also within the state. Emergency nurses are experts in our field and as a group we have a powerful voice to advocate for our patients, community and our profession. Please feel free to email me with any questions about how you can help or further questions you may have.
There was a webinar on November 23rd and the following topics were discussed from the national level:
- Bipartisan budget was signed by President Obama allow for funding of many public health programs and preventing financial blocks in the next 4 months
- ENA is working as an advocate to continue funding Trauma programs
- ENA has signed on to a letter to Senate leadership urging support for bill S.1945 "Mental Health Reform Act of 2015." This bill would expand Americans' access to inpatient psychiatric services; improve coordination between federal agencies; foster integration of physical and mental health services delivery; promote appropriate, effective sharing of individuals' mental health treatment information; establish new grant programs for early intervention, support preventive services; and bolster enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.
At the state level there are 2 bills that are in the focus for work in the next year. The first is the Governor's bill on opioid crisis. The Bill is house bill 3817 " AN ACT RELATIVE TO SUBSTANCE USE TREATMENT, EDUCATION AND PREVENTION" here is a link to the full text Bill H.3817 - Massachusetts. The bill has some good points that involves improving access to substance abuse treatment and also expands the prescription drug monitoring program. However there are aspect of the bill that are concerning. Part of the bill would change the scope of the section 35 of MGL to hold a patient in the hospital when an opioid overdose is suspected. As we can all imagine this would have large impacts to our departments. Over the past 3 weeks ENA has worked with Mass ACEP to have a combined voice to speak about our concerns. On Nov 16th ACEP and ENA were present at the public hearing on the opioid bill and combined we submitted written testimony of the concerns. The day was dominated by law enforcement groups speaking about the struggles of the local police and prison system with addictions and the hope that patients be kept in the hospital setting. In the course of the day it was clear that there was a lack of understanding of the environment we all work in.
The next step for this bill will be that ENA and ACEP will work with committee before the bill is brought to a vote and I will update as there is new information.
The other bill is house bill 1164 has been introduced to increase the penalty for assault of a healthcare worker or EMT to a felony. Colorado recently passed similar legislation in the past 3 months in response to ongoing threats and assaults in the hospital. At this time there is a need for members of the ENA to contact their local reps to support the bill and have it continue to move forward. More information can be found at http://www.stophealthcareviolence.org/
Again feel free to reach out with questions or suggestions.